How to decorate with trays

Learn how to decorate with trays in order to cut down on visual clutter when styling items around your home. Tips, tricks, and a shopping guide for where and how to use trays in all your spaces.

The perfect tray can ground your decor and keep things in a nice neat way. This reduction in visual cutter allows you to feel less overwhelmed while enjoying a beautifully decorate home.

Desk with organized vintage rattan tray and vase of babys breath

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If you have been following me for a while, you know I prefer a minimalist lifestyle, not to the extreme though. Finding ways to decorate to cut down on visual clutter in our home is one of my best kept secrets, until now.

Visual simplification of home decor

The reason trays, baskets and bins in our homes work so well is because the visual simplification those items bring to our spaces. While learning how to stop making clutter worse is the fist step in simplifying our homes, decorating and organizing is the next best steps.

As an added bonus, decorating in a smaller, confined area is less overwhelming. This contained space lets you stretch your decorating skills without feeling like you don’t know what to do.

It can be too much to look at an entire room or space and a wanna be decorator. When you back yourself into a small area, like a tray, it becomes much easier to decorate.

Living room coffee table with trays for  reducing visual clutter

The trays on this coffee table are fun and functional. The white tray is holding photos and the silver tray holds remotes.

Types of trays

Learning to decorate with trays can help achieve a less visually cluttered home. Plus, there are so many options and textures to choose from.

  • Metal
  • Woven
  • Solid wood
  • Marble
  • Leather

Why you’ll love using decorative trays

  • PRETTY – Like me, you love decorating and decorative trays are the perfect accessory.
  • VISUAL CLUTTER CONTROL – Grounding useful and decorative items onto a tray is a great way to minimize the cluttered look.
  • INEXPENSIVE – Affordable prices to fit every single budget.

I have a love for the rattan and wicker style. The texture of baskets feel warm and inviting to me. There are many ways to decorate with baskets too.

Tray size matters. Not too small, not too large, but just right for the space it will be added to. You’re not looking for a storage bin but instead an organized zone.

If the tray is too small, items will overflow on to the surrounding surface, defeating the point. Too large and it will take up too much surface space. Decide what you want the tray to be used for then determine what style and look you need.

Trays are very versatile. Use them to organize and display your favorite items, and get creative with how you incorporate them into your home decor.

Shop Decorative Trays from Amazon

Where to use decorative trays

Coffee table display

Use a tray to create a decorative display with items that you use daily. Place books, magazines, flowers, remote controls, and reading glasses. Use the tray as the grounding base, then add smaller bowls, baskets or containers to organize the smaller items.

Christmas decor coffee table
Simple Summer Decorating Ideas using items around your home

Look for vintage trays like this one above holding magazines. I also use this to lay my readers on top. After purging my magazine stash this is the amount I now keep on hand. Once this gets to an over flow I will get rid of more.


  • Sink: add soaps, detergents, sponges, jewelry when cleaning
  • Stove: oils, vinegars, spices, wood spoons
  • Table: centerpiece for flowers, salt and pepper, napkins

Most kitchen items such as soap and cleaners come in unattractive packaging. Switching out products you use consistently and leave out, I would switch those to amber bottles. I created this fun centerpiece with a farmhouse tray that was a big hit.

galvanized farmhouse style tray as table centerpiece holding candy, flowers and candle
Farmhouse tray styling tips

Kitchen Tray Tip

Use amber glass bottles to put your most used cleaning items in. They can sit out on your tray while keeping with the pretty yet practical mindset.

Vanity and Makeup organization

Use a tray to organize your vanity or bathroom counter. Place your skincare products, makeup, and other items on the tray to keep everything neat and tidy. The smaller bowls added to a larger tray work great for hair accessories.

bathroom counter with black ceramic tray holding skincare
White and Mauve Bathroom makeover

Bar cart styling

Use a tray on your bar cart to section off your different items. Organize your glasses, alcohol, wine, and cocktail-making tools. This will keep everything in one place and make it easy to mix up a drink.

I love clear trays for the bar cart. Most of the time, the items that go on a bar are nice and pretty to look at. Using clear trays will let you corral the items together but also let you still see the nice items.

Entryway catch-all

The entryway for this purpose is the one you enter on a daily bases. Find the perfect tray to corral keys, wallet, cell phone, and other small items. This will keep everything in one place and make it easy to grab what you need on your way out the door.

Using a trinket dish inside of a tray will keep your car keys and small items separated.

Depending on how many set of keys your household has you may need a key organizer like I built. We tried the basket organizer for this but it didn’t work with our amount of keys.

Our garage entryway leads into our laundry room. This is where we enter on a daily bases. A tray to hold items here is best.

Laundry Room Makeover -Easy and Affordable Spring Update

Nightstand table styling

Use a tray on your bedside table to organize your books, glasses, and other items. This will keep everything within easy reach and create a stylish display.

Nightstand with rattan tray organized with remotes, glasses, photo and decor.

Originally I had the lamp on a basket tray leaving room for a remote. My daughter wanted a few more things so I traded out the tray.

White Bedroom Makeover with mauve

Get creative with the trays you buy and use. Often they can move from room to room, which is another fun way to play around with your decor.

Shopping Guide for Decorative Trays

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